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Are Religious Leaders Necessary for 9/11 Ceremony? Which Ones? E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking heat for his decision not to include clergy or a prayer at Sunday's September 11 commemoration ceremony. A spokesperson for the Mayor emphasizes that religious leaders have also not been a part of previous official ceremonies:

"The ceremony was designed in coordination with 9/11 families with a mixture of readings that are spiritual, historical and personal in nature. It has been widely supported for the past 10 years and rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died. This year's six moments of silence allow every individual a time for personal and religious introspection,"

While a non-sectarian prayer delivered at the event would surely be constitutionally acceptable and appropriate for the event, it is by no means required. Conservative activists who suddenly this year are excited by this decision are mistaken in suggesting it represents some betrayal of duty. Staying away from official prayer - I'm sure there will still be a moment of silence for reflection and prayer by anyone who wishes to pray - avoids all the problems such prayer brings: who will speak? which religious perspectives will be represented? if a distinctly denominational prayer is offered, why wouldn't followers of other faiths be offended? After all, adherents of many, many faiths were killed on September 11. Is the proper national response necessarily Christian? Why would that be?

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